Philippines

Reform to perform: Shutdown provides rare POGO opportunity

As the brick and mortar gaming world fell silent in response to the coronavirus, many online gaming operations continued throughout the pandemic. However, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and President Rodrigo Duterte also shuttered the Philippine Online Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the middle of March in response to the outbreak. POGOs have made a sizeable impact financially to the Philippines, with revenues increasing by more than 13% from 2018 to 2019.

In late April, the government began to hold conversations about restarting these operations and deeming them essential businesses as a way to help finance a government heavily hit by a revenue shortfall due to the pandemic. After a six–week break, they were allowed to restart these operations following the strictest guidelines issued by the government under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). Restrictions included limitations on staff sizing (30%), shuttle services for employees, temperature checks, social distancing and masks for employees.

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Bouncing POGOS

Online gaming has been on the radar of mainland Chinese authorities over the last six months, as they seek to stop online operations in Asia. They are particularly focused on online gaming markets in Cambodia and the Philippines, which are suspected of targeting Chinese nationals.

In response to several compliance issues and concerns raised by Beijing, Cambodia has effectively shut down its online gaming operations. However, the Philippines and President Rodrigo Duterte, even after meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping, decided to keep its online gaming operations open. The market is thriving throughout the Philippines and looks to continue to grow under the regulatory structure of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR).

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